Alex Morgan (left), along with Tobin Heath, celebrates one of her two goals. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
CARY, N.C. — The United States continued its assault on opposing goalkeepers and foes as it rolled to yet another big win at the 2018 concacaf Women’s Championship Thursday night.
The Americans captured the Group A title as they registered a 7-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago in the final group-stage match for both teams at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on Wednesday night.
The U.S. (3-0-0, 9 points), the top-ranked women’s team in the world and defending Women’s World Cup champions, will faces the second-place team from Group B — either Jamaica, Costa Rica or Canada — in the semifinals in Frisco, Texas Sunday. Group B will be decided in Edinburg, Texas Thursday night.
T&T finished the tournament at 0-3-0.
The red, white and blue has outscored its foes, 18-0, in this tournament.
Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan (94 international goals) scored two goals apiece. Crystal Dunn of Rockville Centre, N.Y., Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath added one apiece.
For the third consecutive match the U.S. dominated from the opening kickoff to the final whistle with a relentless, high-pressured attack. The hosts hit the woodwork four times in the opening half, three times by Morgan.
Morgan scored from close range in the ninth minute. Goalkeeper Saundra Braun and the woodwork frustrated the Americans until they struck during a four-minute span to break the game open. Lavelle tallied off a 30-yard rocket in the 40th minute and then from eight yards three minutes later. Dunn powered a 20-yard shot home for a 4-0 halftime advantage.
Horan (49th minute), Morgan (50th) and Heath (58th) scored in the second half.
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was credited with the shutout.
In the opening game of the doubleheader, Panama stole the U.S.’s thunder a bit by posting the second upset of the group stage.
Behind the stellar goalkeeping of 17-year-old Yenith Bailey and goals by Karla Riley and Lineth Cedeno, the Central Americans qualified for the semifinal for the first time with a 2-0 win over Mexico.
Los Canaleros (2-1-0, 6), competing in their third CWC, stunned the Mexicans (1-2-0, 3), who had participated in the last two Women’s World Cups and three overall. Panama is one win away from qualifying for its first Women’s World Cup.
To appreciate the accomplishment, Mexico had won the previous five meetings between the teams, outscoring Panama, 19-3.
Bailey, whose performances have belied her age, made several vital saves as she recorded her second shutout of the tournament. None was more important than her penalty-kick save on Charlyn Corral in first-half stoppage time after defender Aldrith Quintero was called for a handball in the box. Bailey, however, dove to her left to deny Corral, swatting the ball away with her left hand.
Two minutes into the second half, Riley volleyed home Kenia Rangel’s left-wing cross with her left foot from eight yards past goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago to the left near post.
Cedeno, a second-half substitute, added an insurance goal, firing home from 14 yards after a right-wing feed from captain Natalia Mills in the 85th minute.